Soccer: Natcho doubtful for final Euro 2016 qualifiers

Natcho was named in Gutman’s squad for the final two qualifiers on Sunday, but the coach is awaiting updates on his condition.

October 5, 2015 23:43
1 minute read.
Israeli national soccer team coach Eli Gutman speaks to reporters

Israeli national soccer team coach Eli Gutman speaks to reporters. (photo credit: ERAN LUF)


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Israel coach Eli Gutman is sweating over the fitness of midfielder Bibras Natcho ahead of the national team’s final two Euro 2016 qualifiers after he suffered a concussion in CSKA Moscow’s 2-0 win over Dynamo Moscow on Sunday.

Natcho was taken off the pitch with a bloodied mouth in the 40th minute after a clash of heads with Dynamo’s Roman Zobnin.

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Israel hosts Cyprus at Teddy Stadium on Saturday before capping its campaign against Belgium in Brussels three days later.

The 27-year-old has started in all eight of Israel’s qualifiers to date, playing the full 90 minutes in seven of them. Natcho hasn’t missed an official international match since 2011.

Natcho was named in Gutman’s squad for the final two qualifiers on Sunday, but the coach is awaiting updates on his condition and already called up a player in his place on Monday.

With Maccabi Haifa defender Eyal Meshumar already being ruled out and Natcho a serious doubt, Oded Elkayam and Ofir Davidzada were added to the squad on Monday.

Gutman was already without the injured Sheran Yeini, Lior Refaelov, Ben Sahar, Rami Gershon and Maor Buzaglo.

Maccabi Tel Aviv midfielder Dor Peretz was handed his first callup on Sunday, giving the yellow-and-blue nine players in the squad.

Maor Melikson and Ahmed Abed were both recalled by Gutman, while Omer Damari, who is Israel’s top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying with five goals, is back after recovering from a foot injury.

Israel currently sits in third place in Group B with 13 points, two ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The team to finish in third place will secure a playoff berth.

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